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Introduction to Linux

Why Linux?

The million dollar question - Why use Linux? In my view, for three simple reasons.

  1. It is free
  2. It is more secure
  3. You don't have the problem of viruses

And my justifications for the above three reasons.

  1. Yes, I feel very guilty being a software engineer and using pirated software. You may argue that Microsoft is minting, they are robbing us, their software is extremely costly, it won't make a difference to them, blah ... blah ... but I still believe that it is ethically wrong to use pirated software. And the same holds for music. There are always free sites as Music India Online and Raaga from where you can listen to streaming audio.
  2. Linux is open-source which means people get to see the code. Hence all the loop-holes in the software are already reported before they can be exploited. This makes Linux more secure than Windows.
  3. Viruses .. they are all around us :-). Need I really say anything about this?

Talking about the superiority of Linux, I should confess that right now Windows still rules in the market. Some top reasons being:

  1. Its gui is far better than most of the linux distros.
  2. If my stats are not wrong, 90% of home machines use Windows. Maybe in 2020 only 10% of home machines would use Windows but the bottom line is that right now, its Windows which has dominated the OS market.
  3. Last but not the least, because of above point, drives for TV Tuner Cards, digicams. etc. are written for only Windows by the hardware product supplier. Believe me, this was one time when I felt ... Oh God, why arn't there any official linux drivers for this hardware product (referring to my TV Tuner Card)?

Which Linux distro?

Just before I get into suggesting which linux to use, let me give you a small background on how these distros - Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandrake, Suse, Mepis, etc. are made.

The heart for any linux distribution is the kernel. This kernel is maintained by the Linux Guru "Linus Trovalds". There are a set of kernel developers who keep working on the present kernel and improving it. Once they have added some new features, they send it to Linus for review. Linus reviews them and incorporates them in the kernel and releases its new version.

Now, individual packages (like firewall, photo editing software, etc.) are generally maintained by organizations or individuals.

Now the various linux distros are formed by taking this kernel, taking the software whichever they feel is necessary and bundling them together and giving to the user as an Operating System.

Giving you an overview of how generally Linux distros are made, I now go into which linux distro. to use and the one I suggest is Mepis. Few reasons why I chose this OS are

  1. It is debian based which has a huge user community
  2. It has a great UI (almost as good as Windows)
  3. It runs off a live CD. What I mean by a live CD is that you don't need to install it on your hard disk to have a look and feel of it. You can run it directly from your cd, check for its compatibility with your hardware and then install.

This has also been awarded the Best Free Desktop Linux . Point & Click Linux! is an excellent book which helps users in gettting started and using SimplyMepis.

Just on a side note, Mepis is based on Debian which is based on apt package manager (I will talk about apt in the later chapters). If you are looking for a rpm based distribution which is great for beginners just like Mepis, then you may try out PCLinuxOS. is a great website which keeps track of all the Linux Distributions.

Is shift from Windows to Linux possible?

Though I am linux fan, I shall not lie in saying that this completely depends upon the level of exposure to Linux and inquisitiveness of the user.

  • If you are someone who has never used Linux and are least interested in learning something new, then I suggest you stick to Windows.
  • If you are someone who has a fair knowledge of Linux (like the basic commands, permissions, etc.) and have some exposure to Linux, then you can shift to Linux completely.
  • If you are somewhere between a novice and an expert, then I suggest you install Linux (without deleting Windows) and later when you get hold on Linux, you can completely shift to it from Windows.

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